A group of women from Heideveld in Cape Town are playing their part in ensuring that the City's roads are safe. They are part of a City of Cape Town programme, known as Women at Work, which seeks to close the gender gap.
“The purpose of the programme is to empower women in the workplace by providing them with skills for manual labour,” said Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Transport Brett Herron.
He explained that the skills and entrepreneurial abilities the women develop during the 10-month employment period will better equip them to find placement in the permanent job market.
Women at Work is a gender transformation programme within the Transport for Cape Town (TCT) depot. It is implemented by the TCT Training Academy, the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and selected roads depots across the city.
The women repair and do maintenance work on roads, footways and stormwater infrastructure in Heideveld, Manenberg, Tambo Village, Athlone, Surrey Estate and areas adjacent to Jakes Gerwel Drive.
The team was established in March 2016 and consists of six members, namely Kashiefa Beck, Nomzamo Feni, Joyleen Melton-Gordon, Pumla Mfana, Ilhaam Ely and Akeelah Abrahams.
Becks said she is happy that she has been given a chance in a field that is predominatly male.
“I am very pleased to be given this opportunity by the municipality. I have gained a lot of skills in repairing roads and I am confident they will enable me to find another job,” she added.
Herron said women were generally under-represented in the transport sector. For example, within TCT, women make up only 3.4
percent of those involved in the physical maintenance of roads and stormwater infrastructure.
“I am confident that this project will assist us over time to change perceptions about the type of work that women can do,” he said.
The women who participate in the programme all share a passion for work that benefits communities and improves service delivery.
TCT’s Training Academy assisted management at the Heideveld depot to identify suitable candidates from the local sub-council jobseeker’s database, in line with the City’s EPWP policy.
The candidates underwent a physical assessment to test their ability to perform the type of work required and they were interviewed and evaluated by depot management.
“A total of 24 women will have benefitted through the Women at Work Programme by the end of the financial year on 30 June 2016. We have spent approximately R1 million on the programme. We now aim to establish 10 all-female roads repair teams, accommodating another 60 women in the next financial year,” said Herron.
The 24 women will exit the programme on 30 June 2016 and a new recruitment process to find candidates to replace them, as well as to expand the programme with a further six teams, will begin.
He added that the women are also coached in life and entrepreneurial skills, conflict management and teamwork.
“Even though they will not be employed permanently, they will be empowered to enter the job market, given the technical exposure and the experience they have gained in drafting a quality CV, interview skills and selling their inter-personal skills to add value to the workplace,” Herron explained.
“We are looking forward to seeing these women working on the streets and sidewalks in Heideveld. I hope that this initiative inspires the private sector to get involved, by assisting us to cover indirect costs or by offering them permanent employment opportunities,” he added.